Have you ever died? Sounds like a silly question but in fact if you hang around the hospital corridors long enough you’ll find that there are many patients that can truly answer that question with a, “Yes.”
“May I come in?” I asked.
“Sure! Have a seat,” the patient said.
“If you don’t mind me asking, how long have you been in?” I asked.
“Oh, about two and a half months, but I’ve only been here for about 3 weeks.”
“And how has your stay been?”
“Good. I feel like I have had more progress in my rehabilitation in the past couple of weeks than in my entire month and a half at the other place.”
“Well, you sound great,” I replied.
The patient went on to say, “Ya know, I’ve been in cardiac arrest multiple times and I’m still here. In fact, the last time I “woke up [from cardiac arrest]” some other medical professionals came to visit me because they couldn’t believe I was still alive.”
“Wow, sounds like you’ve been through a lot.”
“I have,” the patient said with a heavy sigh, turning his head slightly to the right and staring off into the corner of the room. “But ya know…I’m still here,” he said turning back my direction regaining his presence, “…and I’m happy to share what I’ve been through with others if they think it will help them. I had a conversation with someone who went through some similar operations to mine before I had them done and it helped me out a lot.”
According to the textbooks this patient really should not be alive at all, especially after multiple cardiac arrests, plural. Moreover, the patient did not seem to entertain a “pity party” rather, they wanted to share their experience with others, not to talk at them, but to walk with them, through the tough times, to offer support and encouragement.
This patient was focused on what they were going to do now, being present- and future-focused instead of past-focused. The patient began being an encourager, giving them the strength and motivation to live every day to walk alongside those with similar struggles, offering friendship with an empathetic smile.
I wonder how many times we share our stories to talk at someone instead of using a personal experience as a catalyst to walk with them. How many people do you know that ask for support in times of need? In my experience, there are many more people that could use an encouraging word than the number of people that ask for help. What does this look like practically to you? What can you do today to practice it?
“Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
1 Corinthians 3-4